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Italian court acquits Nigerian, upturns sentence in Malabu oil graft case

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An Italian Court of Appeal has acquitted a Nigerian, Emeka Obi, in an oil graft case.

Also, the court acquitted an Italian, Gianluca Di Nardo, and overturned their jail sentences.

The duo was accused of being middlemen and taking illegal kickbacks in a case involving oil giants – Eni and Shell.

Both companies have been accused of wrongdoing in the case which involved an oil field popularly tagged Malabu oil field.

It would be recalled that in 2018, Obi and Di Nardo were both sentenced to a jail term of four years, though they were yet to begin the sentence.

READ ALSO: EFCC files additional ‘evidence’ against Malabu Oil in money laundering case

However, their sentences were overturned three months after a court acquitted the two companies in a long-term case that involved the purchase of a Nigerian oilfield worth $1.3 billion.

In early June, the Italian Ministry of Justice ordered that an inquiry be made on the conduct of Obi and Di Nardo in the case.

After the inquiry, three judges who sat on the case acquitted Obi and Di Nardo, stating that there was no case to answer.

Also, the judges dismissed the charges against the companies and defendants, including the seizure of Obi’s assets worth $98.4 million and Di Nardo’s assets worth over $23 million.

Obi’s lawyer, Roberto Pisano, described the original conviction as an unjust sentence by the court at first instance conditioned by a macroscopic violation of the law.

By Victor Uzoho

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